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The Circle is Unbroken

May 20th, 2011 - By Therese Madden

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Community Supported Agriculture has many models. Here’s one that takes the community full circle by growing their own food.


Photos by Jessica Kourkounis


Coming of Age: Skip Wiener
May 24, 2011
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Skip Wiener believes in community revitalization through greening. He runs the organization Urban Tree Connection and they transform vacant land into public green space and gardens to grow food in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Haddington.

It’s that time again, CSA time, Community Supported Agriculture. The concept can be confusing but basically the consumer pays in the beginning of the season and gets a box of whatever fruits and vegetables the farmer is growing each week. It’s a way to support local farms and get fresh food, win-win. It can be a lot of money up front, as much as $800, so like many things, it’s a great situation, if you can afford it. But there are organizations who are finding ways to change this.

“We are asking people if they can’t afford the food to give us time, to give us hours.” Skip Wiener is the founder of Urban Tree Connection, an organization working in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Haddington, around 52nd and Girard.

A landscape architect by profession, Wiener has been doing greening projects in this blighted neighborhood for 10 years. He started with grass and trees, but in recent years has added fruits and vegetables. And now this year, he’s introducing the CSA. The plan is to give shares of the food to neighbors who help in the garden, “our solution is to grow food in the community and distribute it in the community and not let it go out.” There are raised beds scattered on former vacant lots throughout the neighborhood. There’s also a large piece of land that serves as the main farm, “at the last estimate which we haven’t gone through a full season yet it was closer to 10,000 pounds of food.”

This is a neighborhood that historically has been lacking options for fresh food, “now it’s right in our neighborhood, we can walk around the corner,” that’s resident, Deborah Attison. “That’s great, especially for the seniors that can’t get out a lot of people don’t have cars and stuff so this garden is great for them, so gets everybody involved.”

Getting people outside working together definitely helps build community. Plus, many of the seniors in this neighborhood have southern roots and working on the farm brings them back. Like 71-year-old Georgia native, Woody Fletcher. “I have to think of when I was young I think its beautiful cause I grew up around gardens, farm land,” and of course the youngest of the neighbors are involved too. Now that’s Community Supported Agriculture.



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